1976 Rambler Matador X - Reader Ride

By: Ray Ikin with Guy Allen, Photography by: Ben Galli & Guy Allen

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Ray Ikin couldn't help 'adopting' this unusual American coupe

People sometimes forget just how many brands of cars were assembled in Australia over the years, and Rambler was among them.

A fair number of people have heard of the Matador and Hornet sedans, but th Matador X coupe is a rarity. I had never seen one before – and I’ve been around cars for a long time!

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It was located in Adelaide and I have a friend over there, who worked for Mitsubishi for years, who was able to check out the car for me. He mentioned the steering was incredibly vague and that one of the rear wheels was locking up under brakes.

| Read next: Ray's 1971 Chrysler VH 770 Valiant E38 tribute

I think he may have forgotten how vague power steering was in a lot of cars of this era, particularly American brands. In fact, it was working fine. As for the locking brake, the slave cylinder on the other side had signed off and it was a simple fix.

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In the end, it was really good value for money. Aside from the brake issue, it was in great shape and was probably cheaper than the equivalent Mustang.

Under the bonnet is a 360ci (5.9lt) V8 which is very similar to the Chrysler unit, but is Rambler’s own engine. Behind that is a Chrysler 727 Torqueflite three-speed auto.

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It has the American ‘15mph’ bumpers on it. They’re huge and actually sit on spring-loaded rams, so the car will cop a decent bump before the body gets damaged.

It’s a pretty luxurious thing and is big – really big. It’s a similar size to my Force 7 Leyland coupe. That makes it a mid-size in American terms, which means full-sized for a local car.

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It’s one of those cars that probably won’t ever fetch massive numbers in an auction, but it is a real curiosity over here. Just 85 were assembled by Australian Motor Industries that year, at its South Melbourne palnt. This is build number 34.

Back when it was built, this would have been a very expensive car. Ramblers generally were priced at around a 50 per cent premium over their local counterparts from Holden, Ford and Chrysler. They were a luxury item, with the whole American approach to specification.

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The model was first unveiled lcoally at the Melbourne Motor show in 1974, its first model year and several months after it was shown in its home market, and that show car was eventually converted and put on the road. It was a pretty strong seller in the USA.

Back here, they just didn’t take off – hence the low build number. That’s a shame, as it’s a good car to drive. I’ve taken it to shows, covering a few hundred kilometres for each trip, and it’s a good thing to travel in. It’s a really nice addition to the shed.

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From Unique Cars #455, June 2021

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